Money Back Guarantee

     The man was not god, but he could have sold Jesus an all-expenses paid trip to Sin City. He died at the age of 50, unexpectedly. Billy Mays will surely be missed.
     The night before he died I happened to catch an infomercial trying to sell me some cooking apparatus that could fry!, bake!, and sauté! anything I could think of. The pitch-woman tried with all her might to get me, the viewer, to forget I already owned an oven and a pan.
     There is a distinct art to the successful infomercial. First and foremost, it must be aired at specific times: either early on a Sunday morning when older viewers are watching, or after midnight when the drunks, stoners, insomniacs, and other easily persuaded people are flipping channels.
     Second, if possible, enlist some lackey to “host” the infomercial. This person has to act like they’ve never seen the product being pitched, and must also act like whatever is being sold is the greatest human accomplishment since Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon.
     Although crucial to a successful infomercial, this can be a difficult task. No matter how much I wanted to believe this hack over the weekend, I couldn’t see myself shelling out $50 for a future Salvation Army donation.
     Of course, the hack isn’t the one doing the actual selling. Generally they follow along, exclaiming things like “that quesadilla sure looks good,” or “I can’t count the number of times I’ve accidentally poured lighter fluid on the hood of my car and then set it on fire.”
     The “hosts” are expendable, especially when the salesman has some charisma. The ones with flair, such as Ron Popeil, could sell snow tires in an equatorial village. The truly talented pitchmen can convince you, almost without trying, that you really can’t go another day without a pocket sandblaster.
     Mays was one of those guys. Although I’ll never get to see him ironically pitch black hair dye, and never spent time running through grass stain factories sufficient to require the six pounds of OxiClean he was hyping, he had a personality that came across as genuine.
     Yeah, you probably didn’t need a giant auger for your garden, but in case you did he had one he really believed in, that he wanted you to try. For that he’ll be missed by infomercial aficionados like myself.
     Now about that other unexpected death last week…

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